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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tropico 6 is the latest in a series of politically-themed strategy games for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The game gives players the power of a third-world dictator, and as such, allows them to bribe, imprison, and even kill people at will. It also lets them embezzle money and manufacture and sell alcohol, cigars, and drugs, and many of these items can be produced by your people as well. There's occasional mild violence in the form of tiny soldiers fighting it out, and occasional mild profanity like “damn” or “hell.” Online multiplayer contains chat where players could be exposed to profanity, bullying, and inappropriate conversations.
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What's it about?
TROPICO 6 is a city-building game where players become the dictator of a third-world tropical country and lead it to glory or destruction. Players learn the ropes through a brief tutorial and then through themed Missions that teach them about industry, trade, and diplomacy as well as how to build infrastructure (like roads, power stations, amd government institutions.) Missions also teach players how to navigate through different times in history, from the nineteenth century, the World Wars, Cold War, and the Modern Era. In a departure from previous games in the series, Tropico 6 gives players a series of islands to manage (as opposed to one) and lets them build bridges and tunnels among them. It also features fully simulated citizens who exhibit more complex behaviors, making them more difficult to please. Online multiplayer lets up to four players compete to see who's the most effective dictator.
Is it any good?
This game teaches strategy and resource management while poking good-natured fun at world politics. The biggest change you'll see in Tropico 6 is the addition of multiple islands to manage with a range of new challenges: perhaps corn, bananas and sugar only grow on an island separate from your settlement. Or perhaps good grazing for livestock is three islands over. With limited income, how do you get industry going when the people need food, housing, and healthcare? You'll find your people are harder to keep happy this time, thanks to better AI (artificial intelligence). Should they become unhappy with your leadership, your time in office is over. Thankfully, your regime has all the usual rebellion-crushing tools: surveillance, spies, and military police. You can also tail individuals, read their thoughts, and bribe, imprison, or kill them before they can cause too much trouble.
This underhandedness is what makes Tropico 6 a disturbing but useful teaching tool. Teens wanting to make sense of the current political landscape can gain real insight into the difficulties of governance through a presentation that offers a funny but spot-on critique of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Moreover, the various single player scenarios offer hands-on lessons in resource and relationship management. It's not easy to keep the various factions happy, and this makes themed missions very challenging. (Sometimes they're challenging for the wrong reasons: misleading objectives, finicky road placement tools, and vague menus that don't provide clear enough feedback.) In spite of/because of the difficulty though, single player missions provide countless hours of entertainment, and when they're cleared, there's single player sandbox mode and online multiplayer mode. With all this to enjoy -- despite its new features being a bit mild -- Tropico 6 is worth a purchase.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about politics in games. How can games clarify complicated political concepts? Can they make topics or concepts more complicated?
How has the current progressed from twenty years ago? Fifty years? A hundred years? Has it regressed in any way? What about in other parts of the world?
What do you think is society's most important issue? Education? Health care? Military? Research?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid ("El Prez" Edition available for $54.99 - comes with digital soundtrack, more clothes and palace customization options.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Kalypso Media USA
- Release date: March 29, 2019
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: History
- ESRB rating: T for Drug Reference, Mild Language, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.